Ex-England star Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is the “only defender” out there who can deal with the pace of France forward Kylian Mbappe.
Walker has only just returned to fitness following groin surgery, getting his first start of the World Cup against Wales on Tuesday, and Ferdinand paid tribute to the 32-year-old’s defensive qualities:
“For me, Kyle Walker is the only defender on the planet right now that will stand there and go to Mbappe: ‘Right, 1-v-1, let’s have a race.’ He will back himself too. We saw it in the Euros. He’s got the confidence to do that and he’s the only one capable of doing that I think.”
It will be interesting to see how often Walker is deployed by England in the tournament from here on out. He is clearly ahead of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold in the pecking order, but Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier did start the first two group games versus Iran and the USA.
Manager Gareth Southgate is likely to keep with a back four in the last 16 against Senegal so it will be a straight toss-up between Walker and Trippier for the right-back slot.
If they progress further into the competition, though, a return to three at the back is a possibility, meaning Walker could be selected in the backline. You never know, he could come face-to-face with Mbappe again if both nations reach the quarter-finals.
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